Vbulletin vs discourse

We used vBulletin from 2001 to 2020 and still use it as a “read only” reference site (vB3.8.X).

Honestly, there is nothing I miss from vBulletin; and in fact after moving to vBulletin I found the MVC model of Ruby on Rails to be far superior to the LAMP model used by vBulletin (from a sys admin and web dev perspective).

From a user experience, most of our users are very happy with Discourse; however we did lose a few long established experts who loved the legacy / vintage look-and-feel of a vBulletin forum.

I had plans to port our legacy vB reference site to Rails in 2021; meaning I was going retool the site to a Rails, Redis, Sidekiq, MySQL, jQuery, Bootstrap reference site (build a Rails app on top of the existing MySQL DB); but I’m so busy with fun and interesting paid Rails client work in 2021 that I don’t think our legacy site will be retooled this year.

Before installing Discourse, I was an avid PHP programmer; but after migrating to Discourse and working with Ruby and Rails, I do not enjoy anything about PHP and LAMP web dev any more and am a big Rails fan thanks, in part, to migrating from vB to Discourse (and then learning Rails after years of PHP web dev).

Sorry to repeat myself, but as far as our vB site was concerned it was “good riddance” to vBulletin and their LAMP architecture; and “Thank You Discourse!” for building Discourse on top of Rails!

Hope this helps, @MKDan


We used it from 2007 to 2016, the transition was smooth, and only a small percentage of members complained about Discourse. BUT once they were used to Discourse and how to use its feature, they never wanted to back to VB.

What most of them were missing was the VB homepage with listed forums and subforums, and pages in threads. Over time that faded and we can hear about it only when new members coming from ‘classic’ forums join our Discourse powered board.

That being said, I can’t think of any feature that I’m missing from VB that is not already part of Discourse. I think going back to vBulletin from Discourse would be a huge step back.


I had a vBulletin license for years and Photopost (which I miss).

I was banned from their forums on the day they changed the licensing for venting my anger as were many others.
The only ban I’ve ever received (I wear it with honour) :shield:.

This led to Xenforo spinning off.

Never looked at vBulletin since.

I miss the gallery add-on.


Discourse looks much better than Vbulletin. But the only thing is, Discourse can’t be installed in shared hosting.


Why use shared hosting in 2021?

Discourse is open source and installs on a <=$5/month cloud server.

Looks better and is better, especially for Staff/Admins.


We used vBulletin from 2008 to 2018. (before that we were using disqus, and even before that we were using something else that I can’t remember - it was from 1996 to 1999).

Some features we were using with vBulletin that are not (exactly) available in Discourse, were the blogs, galleries and groups (vbulletin groups were similar to fb groups). When we migrated to Discourse, all three features were missed at first, but we found out that most of them added unnecessary clutter to our community and moved the focus away from discussion.

We were using blogs for member creations, but we substituted them with forum topics.

We were using groups for teams interested in specific aspects of our community. But we just phased them out and moved the discussions on the main forum. This actually increased engagement and awareness of all topics.

The same applied to galleries too…

So… the verdict was: too much clutter with no direct value to the community and actually sometimes detrimental effect to the cohesion of the discussions.

Nahh, we won’t miss it at all!


It may or may not be helpful to know that blogs and galleries are both available in Discourse using theme components.

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The only difference with vBulletin, is that both blogs and galleries were user scoped. Meaning they were tied with each user’s profile.

Of course if you really wanted, you could achieve that too in Discourse, either with some fancy category settings or a plugin if you really want to get that far…


This jibes with my 10+ years of experience frequenting a vBulletin forum. After 10 years, I realized of the hundreds of things I could potentially click on any given page in vBulletin, all those links sprayed all over the screen… I had only ever clicked on maybe a dozen of those links. Ever. Ever! in a DECADE of usage!

That’s just crazypants :crazy_face::jeans:


If you’re thinking about using Discourse - just use it! It’s the best forum platform around and will be for the foreseeable future. I’m often staggered by the pace of development here, and the team is made up of some incredibly talented people (such as Sam Saffron who I’d say is one of the most experienced Ruby developers around).

With regards to what’s missing from vB - that’s probably not a good way to look at it because they are different, but I am pretty sure that if your site is predominantly a forum your users will be much happier on Discourse.

The only ‘forum’ type feature I miss from vB is the ability to have a section where only the topic starter and the admin/mod team can view threads. We use these sections for Forum Feedback, Contact Staff etc and they’re just a bit better suited to that type of thing than PMs (which once seen are forgotten and not as easy to categorise or review later).

There are lots of things I’d like to see in Discourse tho - one of them is being able to use it to power lots of other sections, such as blogs, articles, news, etc. The commenting/discussion system in Discourse is probably one of its biggest strengths - imagine a Wordpress type blog with the power of Discourse comments and all seamlessly integrated with the forum’s user profiles. I really think Discourse could replace Wordpress (and other CMSes) if they looked into this and it really wouldn’t be too difficult either - on vB we used it to power several other sections and all we needed was 1) A custom index page for each section where we could fetch all the latest items for that section, and b) the ability to set one style for the first post, and another for subsequent posts (simple conditional managed this in vB) this would allow the main article and comments to look different.

I’d also like to see a proper block feature. This would make life a lot easier for moderators.

Both of these have been discussed on the forum before, but they are not likely to be added (which I personally feel is a big shame and I hope the team review this at some point).


You are aware we have both Mute and Ignore per-user now, yes?


This is something I’d like to see Eventually™ too, along with the possibility for a category where the topic starter has limited moderation powers in the topic (at minimum, delete other + instant delete self + no self edit time limits).

I’m fairly certain this is possible, buried somewhere in the insane permissions configuration dialogs of vB.

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That doesn’t prevent a user from being able to respond/reply to a person’s posts though does it?

We’ve discussed this before - but you weren’t keen on the idea IIRC. I hope you’ll review your position on this.

I’d need quite a bit of convincing on that. I feel this super weird permissions convention was something that vBulletin accidentally foisted on the world, and now we all suffer as a result. Basically it was “oh, here’s One Weird Trick™ to pretend our forum is a ticketing help desk solution, tell the sales team they can start selling it that way!”

(if you need a ticketing help desk system, use one! and that’s on top of the whole “hey what if permissions were per-topic” which is … a massive and unnecessary undertaking)

We have rudimentary forms of this already, for example the topic owner can reply an unlimited number of times to their own topic.


We use this capability fairly extensively in our current software today and I lean in your direction here. Most of these threads that users create for “support” are really just a means to complain at the staff that their post got removed or whatever. There are some legitimate uses though where users are trying to report a history of harassment by someone else or other topics that require some actual discussion.

There are times where some delicate interaction is needed but it is way overkill to try bolting on a ticket system. This kind of thing will have to move to private messages I think once we migrate to Discourse, but that is going to be annoying since these topics will need to have the entire staff added so everyone is on the same page.


This is an excellent use case for such as system - otherwise people use the more public ‘forum feedback’ section, and often only to stir up trouble. Moving to a ‘Contact Staff’ section cut that kind of nonsense by about 90%.

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I noticed that group pages have a message button on them and a separate inbox that users can keep track of. I’m not sure how I feel about this vs a see your own threads only permission but that might work.

We also use this kind of setup apart from Staff Contact as a “Private Workshop” type situation where users can post and test formating or store content they are slowly building up and editing over time before being posted somewhere publically.

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Yes, the group inbox for @moderators is what you should be using if the discussion needs to be private.




Uff, vBulletin, what a memories!! :lol:

I have used phpbb, vbulletin, iPB, and others.

Don’t think twice, Discourse is the present, and the future.